The human body has 230 moveable and semi-moveable joints, so why does the standard action figure only have five points of articulation?
Unlike many major action figure manufacturers, Boss Fight Studio (BFS) recognizes the importance of articulated joints. The specialty collectible company’s original 4-inch figures feature an average of 35 points of articulation — right down to the toes. And the product innovation doesn’t stop there.
BFS is a nimble organization comprised of fewer than 10 people. According to BFS’ Director of Business Development and Marketing Sarah J. Brown, the company’s small roster is exactly what allows it to be so successful. “It allows us to have direct access to our customer conversations, or really dig into our social media communications,” she explains. “We speak directly to our customers; whether they are fans and collectors or retailers and distributors, we talk to everybody ourselves. There is no middle man. We’ve found that our fans have responded very well to that. It’s one of the things we’re known for.”
Comprised of ex-Hasbro executives, the BFS team prides itself on its ability to act fast and make the best decisions for the company and its fans, without having to deal with political ramifications. “We do what we are passionate about, we do it very well, and we don’t have to compromise anything,” Brown says.
BFS’ Vitruvian Highly Articulated Character Kit System (V H.A.C.K.S.) features 1:18-scale action figures with a revolutionary design. The highly customizable collectibles feature special joints that allow fans to pull them apart and reassemble them in countless combinations. They can create new characters, add fresh paint jobs, and interchange the accessories — all for just $24.99 each.
BFS launched V H.A.C.K.S. on Kickstarter in 2014, successfully funding the project with more than 1,100 backers raising $412,270 (far surpassing its goal of a mere $75,000). Customizers were ready for highly articulated figures that offered something different — and they got it.
V H.A.C.K.S. series one featured an array of characters inspired by Greek mythology, including Achilles, an Amazon warrior, and a River Styx Guardian. The second series introduced a fantasy theme complete with a Dragon Priest, Orc Hunter, and Elven Ranger.
In addition to intense articulation, creative character designs, striking deco, and a raft of accessories, V H.A.C.K.S. are meant for both play and display. “A lot of our fans want to be able to play with the figure. It’s got that touch-and-feel aspect,” Brown says. “We intentionally design all of our packaging to be reopened and played with, and then you can display it and put it back on the shelf.” BFS’ packaging features an innovative, unique design. The blister is carefully folded back over the card, so fans can open the package without ruining anything, remove the figures, and then put them back in like nothing ever happened.
Walk down the action figure aisle of any major retailer, and one thing is noticeable: There are hardly any female figures hanging from the pegs. But BFS’ V H.A.C.K.S line is comprised of just as many female figures as male — it’s a true 50-50 ratio. “Because of our target, and the fantasy settings that we put them into, we are able to drive our storylines to support the figures,” Brown says.
Though only about 30% of BFS’ collectors are female and 70% are male, the female figures still sell well, especially because of the fantasy and Greek themes.
“Collectors want to have female figures in their collections. There’s a storyline to be built out, and you can’t do that with just male figures,” she says.
And inclusion doesn’t stop at gender. BFS’ figures are available in multiple flesh tones and represent different ethnicities, including African-American, Asian, and Hispanic. “We run the gamut of what makes up our cultures. Not only just from our carded figures, but also from our custom figures. And we take input from our fans in regard to what they’d like to see and if they feel there’s a gap in something,” Brown says.
V H.A.C.K.S. are also available in blanks, designed with customizers in mind. “There was a huge gap in the 4-inch customizing offering. They weren’t to this level,” Brown says. The blank figures include multiple sets of hands, feet, different heads, and a stand. They are available in a full array of colors, from flesh tones to neons. “When they launched the carded figures, nearly half the skews they launched with were focused on customizers. We knew that was a segment that was lacking and we filled the gap,” Brown says.
Series Z, which will introduce zombies into the BFS mix, is coming to the V H.A.C.K.S line later this year. “Fans are banging down the doors to get the Series Z figures, it’s a really fun take on zombie apocalypse,” Brown teases.
But there’s more to BFS than its original IPs. Since 2017, the company has been working with Continuity Studios, which owns the rights to Bucky O’Hare — a neon-saturated, space-themed comic book series from the ‘80s — on a line of officially licensed, 4-inch figures based on the comics.
With three waves of Bucky O’Hare characters available now, including Dead Eye Duck, Storm Toad Trooper, and First Mate Jenny, BFS will continue to release new figures into the line because of fan demand. “When Hasbro released the original toy line, which was very much kid-focused, there were some core characters like Jenny who they never released,” Brown says. “We have been shocked by the amount of interest in it and the request for new characters and new crew and vehicle support.”
Continuity was the perfect partner for BFS since the studio also has a small, tight-knit team. “I wish every company had the type of rapport we had,” Brown gushes — and the feeling is mutual.
Neal Adams, president of Continuity Studios, explains that BFS’ passion and attention to detail are what fuels the successful partnership. “To run into a company that feels very proprietary of the work they do and very desirous of turning out a really good product is the thing that we love,” he says. “This is a small group of individuals who give a damn, and we like that.”
In addition to new Bucky O’Hare figures, BFS is set to launch a line of Sam & Max figures later this year, and it recently announced a partnership with Masked Republic for collectibles based on the Legends of Lucha Libre.
BFS also heads a bit outside of its comfort zone this year with the release of I Am Brilliance, a line of STEM-themed action figures targeting kids ages 8 and up. BFS hopes the line will introduce girls to different professions of which they might not already be aware. BFS typically targets collectors ages 25 and up, focusing heavily on history and fantasy. I Am Brilliance is a clear departure, but it’s an exciting new venture. “While our collectors were initially surprised, they’ve really bought into the range now that they understand it,” Brown says.
BFS figures are all created in limited quantities, and once they are gone, they’re gone. “We don’t rerelease what we’ve already done,” Brown says. The company currently sells about 75% of its figures directly to consumers via its website, but it will be expanding distribution this year to give its fans more opportunities to find the figures on store shelves.
You can find BFS at comic conventions throughout the East Coast, in specialty comic book stores and hobby shops across the country, and online at bossfightstudio.com. On the rise, the manufacturer isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. “We’re in this for the long haul,” Brown says.